Down on the Farm: Morse plays left, goes hitless in first rehab game

Down on the Farm: Morse plays left, goes hitless in first rehab game

Michael Morse was back on the field in a Giants uniform for the first time in nearly a month Tuesday night. Well, that is, a San Jose Giants uniform in Advanced Single-A. 

Morse, 35, began his rehab assignment after straining his hamstring rounding first base in spring training on March 20. 

“It’s really too bad for him. He was doing all he needed to do to make the club. It’s a shame,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said at the time of the injury.

Morse went 0-for-2 with a walk, a strikeout and a run scored Tuesday in San Jose as the Giants took down the Salt Lake Bees, 3-2. Most interestingly, he played left field for seven innings and caught the only ball hit his way. 

In his first at-bat back in action, Morse drew a walk and later scored on a Dillon Dobson liner to center, which also plated catcher Aramis Garcia, scoring all the Giants’ runs for the game in the first inning alone. Morse's strikeout came on a called strike three in his next time up, but he showed promise with his final at-bat. 

At the plate in the bottom of the fifth with Giants’ 2016 first-round pick Bryan Reynolds at first, Morse rocketed a line shot to third. Unfortunately, it was snagged and resulted in a double play. 

Morse was replaced defensively in the top of the eighth inning by Daniel Carbonell. 

In spring training, Morse impressed Bochy with his bat as well as his glove and fitness.

“I think, not just the way he was swinging the bat, but he was playing a good first base and I put him in the outfield,” Bochy said. “I think he was moving around well. He came into camp in tremendous shape. That should show him he still has some baseball left. Good baseball.”

Morse played in 14 games for the Giants in spring training, spending time at both first base and left field. He hit .258 with a .343 on-base percentage and .516 slugging percentage while knocking out two home runs. 

“I proved to myself that I can still play,” Morse said the day after his injury. “And I proved to myself yesterday that I’m not really a fast runner.”

The last time Morse played in the majors, he went hitless suiting up in six games for the Pirates in 2016. He also has not played in left field since 2015, where he made no errors in 35 innings for the Marlins. 

Morse proved he can still play in spring training. Now he must prove he can stay healthy to be that spark he was for the Giants again, just like back in 2014. And it all starts down on the farm in San Jose. 

Around The Horn

— Morse isn’t the only veteran outfielder for the Giants in the minors looking to make it back up to the bigs. Drew Stubbs, 32, has only played in five games for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats and already has 10 strikeouts. He is improving though, going 4-for-10 in his last two games. Justin Ruggiano, 35, is also in the outfield mix for the River Cats. He has struggled so far, hitting only .214 with 10 strikeouts in eight games. 

— The Christian Arroyo hit parade continues in Sacramento. Arroyo belted his second home run of the season Tuesday night and now has an 11-game hit streak. At 21 years old, he is batting .442, which leads the Pacific Coast League. 

— Last week, Aramis Garcia was named to the MLB Pipeline Prospect Team of the Week. After missing much of the season injured in 2016, Garcia, 24, is hitting .341/.386/.610 with three home runs and 13 RBI in nine games. 

Instant Replay: Arroyo, Morse go deep, Giants walk off on Dodgers

Instant Replay: Arroyo, Morse go deep, Giants walk off on Dodgers

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — Michael Morse hoped to bring a little levity to a battered clubhouse Wednesday. On his first day as a Giant since the 2014 World Series, he ended up bringing the most thrilling win of the season. 

Morse’s pinch-hit homer in the eighth shook AT&T Park and tied the game. His good friend Hunter Pence won it with a sacrifice fly in the 10th, giving the Giants a 4-3 win over the Dodgers. 

The 10th-inning rally started with Gorkys Hernandez’s single off Ross Stripling. Hernandez stole second and Conor Gillaspie drew a walk, and both runners were safe when Adrian Gonzalez went to third on Nick Hundley’s bunt. Pence flied out to deep left on the 10th pitch of his at-bat. The Giants had been 0-13 when trailing after seven. Morse  helped change all that.

Morse’s homer came an inning after Christian Arroyo’s first career homer. The newcomers saved a night that started with nothing but failure. 

The Giants entered with four games this month where they failed to put a runner on the first time through the order. Lefty Alex Wood stayed with the theme. Brandon Belt finally touched first with a one-out walk in the fourth but it wasn’t until the sixth that a Giant — Drew Stubbs — picked up a hit.

By that time, the Dodgers led 3-0. Johnny Cueto worked around some early trouble but Corey Seager got to him in the sixth. The young shortstop led off with a mammoth blast on a 3-2 pitch that landed a couple dozen rows up in left-center. The homer was tracked at 462 feet per Statcast, tied for the longest in the Majors this season.

The Dodgers went up 2-0 when Chase Utley blooped a single to left with the bases loaded. Utley was 1-for-31 at the time. Andrew Toles beat out a grounder to bring home a third run. 

The Giants looked dead in the water, but Wood — the Dodgers’ swingman — was pulled after 77 pitches and old friend Sergio Romo immediately opened the door. Buster Posey hit a one-out single and Arroyo lined a slider just over the fence in left-center.

Morse’s first at-bat as a Giant in three years sent an even bigger charge through the park. He got a 97 mph fastball from Pedro Baez with two strikes and blasted it to left. Morse held his arm up right away and screamed as he rounded first.

Starting pitching report: Cueto was charged with three runs on seven hits and two walks. He’ll finish April with a 5.10 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. After holding opposing hitters to a .238 average last year, he’s getting hit at a .271 clip this season. 

Bullpen report: Steven Okert did a great job of settling the place down, throwing a scoreless inning before Arroyo’s homer and retiring two more immediately after. 

At the plate: The 21-year-old Arroyo calmly clapped his hands once as he rounded first. He was pushed out of the dugout for a curtain call as the park roared. Most impressive of all, his mom, Kimberly, didn’t drop a single nacho as she celebrated in the stands.

In the field: Stubbs made a diving catch to open the seventh and Gorkys Hernandez followed with a nifty sliding catch at the wall.

Attendance: The Giants announced a crowd of 41,572 human beings. Thursday will be the 500th consecutive (announced) sellout.

Up next: Matt Moore (1-3, 5.87 ERA) will try to turn his month around. The Dodgers will trot out young lefty Julio Urias, who spent three weeks in the minors to control his innings count. 

Giants lineup: Bochy places Arroyo right behind Posey vs Dodgers

Giants lineup: Bochy places Arroyo right behind Posey vs Dodgers

After recording his first hit in the big leagues, the Giants are making Christian Arroyo into Buster Posey's protection vs. the Dodgers.

Los Angeles Dodgers (10-11)

1. Cody Bellinger (L) LF
2. Corey Seager (L) SS
3. Justin Turner (R) 3B
4. Adrian Gonzalez (L) 1B
5. Yasmani Grandal (S) C
6. Yasiel Puig (R) RF
7. Chase Utley (L) 2B
8. Andrew Toles (L) CF
9. Alex Wood (R) P

San Francisco Giants (7-14)

1. Hunter Pence (R) RF
2. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
3. Eduardo Nunez (R) SS
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
6. Joe Panik (L) 2B
7. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
8. Drew Stubbs (R) CF
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P